By Kathy Kristof
We’ve all heard the depressing stories about job fairs where the handful of recruiters are mobbed with hundreds of applicants for less than a dozen positions, the oft-used term “jobless recovery” and speculation that we’re headed into a “double-dip” recession. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a job, says Susanne Goldstein, career coach and author of “Carry a Paintbrush: How to Be the Artistic Director of Your Own Career.”
But the best way to approach a job search has changed, she says. Here are her top tips for finding work that that you’ll love and that will love you.
Brand Yourself: Think of yourself as a car. What comes to mind when you think Volvo? (Safe and kind of boring?) When you say Prius? (I will never race someone for a six-pack, but I will save a tree?) Porsche? (I have enough money for a really great mid-life crisis?) Okay. Those thoughts may not have been the manufacturer’s marketing materials, but car manufacturers spend a great deal of time determining how to design and market their vehicles to emphasize what makes them special — power, safety, curb appeal or economy, for example. That helps them find their niche and target their pitch to a receptive audience. You need to do the same thing with your career. What’s your brand?
If you’re not sure, Goldstein suggests you start with three sheets of paper. Label one: Passions; the next: Interests; the final: Skills. Write down as many thoughts as you can on each page and then brainstorm with your smartest friends and advisors about what careers intersect your passions, interests and skills. That’s the niche where you’re likely to thrive. Target employers in that niche and target your pitch to show them how you are a spectacular fit.
Think Backward: Instead of looking for open jobs, look for companies that do the things that engage you and fit your skill set. Don’t even worry yet about whether they have open positions, says Goldstein. Research companies. Read their history, mission statement and about their team — all information you’re likely to find on their web site.
Part of what sells you is what you know and like about them. Remember that even though you’re here because you want to find a job, this is not about you. Find out what problems the company needs to solve. If you can legitimately help solve those problems, you become like aspirin — a simple way to fix their headaches.